The Mediterranean Diet

This is the beginning of what will eventually be a loooooong post on the Mediterranean Diet.

Hundreds of books and thousands of studies have described the Mediterranean Diet and its benefits since the term since researchers at Harvard coined the term in the early 50s. In 1970, Dr. Ancel Keys published a study of 12,000 people that tied the Mediterranean Diet to the incidence of death from heart disease.

The research was carried out with more than 12,000 men of Finland, Greece, Italy, Japan, Holland, the United States and Yugoslavia. There were high correlations between the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol in the diet of the people, the cholesterol levels in their blood and its percentage of death by cardiovascular diseases. Of these seven nations, the United States and Finland had the highest animal product consumption, the highest saturated fat intake, the highest cholesterol consumption and the highest percentage of death by cardiovascular diseases. On the contrary, the Mediterranean countries and Japan were in the opposite pole.

An article titled The Best Foods for Thought, Literally in today’s Wall Street Journal reports that…

We’ve long known that the Mediterranean diet is good for the heart. Now, it may be good for the brain as well.

A study published in this month’s issue of the Archives of Neurology found that the diet might protect against blood-vessel damage in the brain, reducing the risks of stroke and memory loss.

It’s the first study to specifically examine the effects of the diet centered around vegetables, fruits, fish, whole grains, nuts, olive oil and a moderate amount of alcohol, with limited consumption of red meat, sweets and refined grains like white bread or white rice—on the brain’s small blood vessels.

We’d already heard that the “Mediterranean Diet” lowers the risk of heart disease, keeps French women trim, and may keep Alzheimer’s at bay. Now MRI scans find that people who eat Med are less likely to suffer “silent strokes” that lead to regular strokes and degrade memory.

What is it with this Mediterranean Diet? Last year Greek researchers pooled findings from 50 studies covering half a million people and discovered that eating a Med Diet reduced the risk of succumbing to metabolic syndrome by 31%. Metabolic syndrome? That’s high blood pressure and blood sugar, low levels of HDL (“good cholesterol”), high levels of triglycerides, and a fat waistline. This sets you up for obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

to be continued…

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